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article imageIndia’s space rocket carrying 20 satellites blasts off

By Lucky Malicay     Jun 23, 2016 in Science
New Delhi - India’s space industry has risen a notch higher with the successful launch of a rocket carrying 20 satellites from at least five countries, an achievement the Indian president said exhibited the country’s increasing space capabilities.
The PSLV-C34 rocket took off from the southern Sriharikota spaceport bringing satellites from the US, Germany, Canada, India and Indonesia, setting a national record with the most in a single mission.
Some of the 20 satellites, weighing a total of 1,288 kilograms, will be used to observe and measure the Earth's atmosphere.
"Each of these small objects that you are putting into space will carry out their own activity, which is independent of the other, and each of them will live a wonderful life for a finite period," Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) chairman A.S Kiran Kumar was quoted by AFP as telling the NDTV news network.
At least 13 of the 20 satellites launched on Wednesday were from the U.S., including one from a company owned by Google. Two were from the Sathyabama University in Chennai and the College Of Engineering in Pune.
“With today’s successful launch, the total number of satellites launched by India’s workhorse launch vehicle PSLV has reached 113, of which 39 are Indian and the remaining 74 from abroad,” the ISRO announced on its website.
Indian President Shri Pranab Mukherjee congratulated Kumar and his team at the ISRO on the successful launch of the PSLV-C34 and wished the agency success in its future undertakings.
“My heartiest congratulations to you and your entire team at the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) for the successful launch of PSLV-C34, carrying a record 20 satellites in a single mission including the Cartosat-2 series satellite and 19 co-passenger satellites,” Mukherjee said.
“The nation is proud of this achievement which has demonstrated, yet again, India’s increasing space capabilities. Kindly convey my greetings to all members of your team of scientists, engineers, technologists and all others associated with this mission. I wish ISRO success in all future endeavours.”
Prime Minister Narendra Modi also said the launch has been a monumental accomplishment for the state-owned ISRO.
“Over the years we developed expertise & capability to help other nations in their space initiatives. This is the skill of our scientists,” he tweeted.
An expert said India has made its presence felt in the space industry with the latest mission, expecting ISRO to attract more international partners as it continues to grow in the coming years.
"India is attracting key foreign players, most importantly the US, in the space market thanks to its cost-effectiveness and credibility," Ajay Lele of Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses in New Delhi told AFP.
Pallava Bagla, a science editor with the Indian TV channel NDTV, said Wednesday’s launch was a significant achievement for India and a testament to its great advancement in science and technology.
"India offers launch costs that are fifty percent cheaper than the rest of the world, so if Space X, Arianespace or NASA can do it at $100, India is willing to do it at $50," Bagla told Al Jazeera.
Known for its low-cost space program, India has been aggressively competing with other major global players in the lucrative commercial space market.
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